Mendful Living is Soul-Centered Living

It takes courage to embrace the unknown and to find our way in new situations. Change can be scary and confusing. We must find “ground” first to calm down, so that the fear based part of the brain is not the only thing controlling our behavior. I call that part of the brain, the F brain; fear, fight, flight and freeze.
Mendful path mentor us to find our soul-center so we can stay settled in the calm and peace of our soul, especially when we are feeling scared and confused. Mendful  practices teach us ways to bring more calm to the body-mind and foster remembering and understanding of the underlying deep interconnection of all things. 

I am leading a retreat on October 17-19 at Kripalu to explore the relationship between mendful, soul, contentment, ease and happiness.
This holistic retreat provides a direct approach to living authentically and cultivating peace and well-being in all aspects of your daily life. I will explain confusing concepts and guide healing contemplative practices that focus on reducing discontent and strengthening trust in your authentic experience. Practice transformative meditations, relaxation, and self-inquiry to point the way toward wonder, enjoyment, ease, and contentment.

I hope to see you there.
Blessings,  Rabbi Sigal
MENDFUL Living from Your Soul at Kripalu, October 17-19

Contact us for details


Weddings   Bnai Mitzvah

Mentoring &  Meditation

Contact us when you are ready for individual mentoring. Sigal has room for a few new students

Flow like Sweet Honey

 

It’s 5779!

Everything is waiting for you. Everything.

May the New Year FLOWWWWWW LIKE SWEET HONEY.
Pour it allover your life and soak in it to infuse everything. Everything, even the toughest and most challenging situations, sorrows and pains. Release it all into an ocean of honey; the troubles of the last year and the worries of the next, and let them melt away to be sweetened. Love and blessings, Rabbi Sigal

Yom Kippur Services

Polyvagal Theory: A Mendful Pointer to Wellbeing

Polyvagal theory and other neuroscience teach about important systems that regulate our responses. These new areas of study are important for us to understand because they point us to wellbeing. The theories explain patterns in our body-mind which heavily influence our lives; physiologically, psychologically, relationally and cognitively. 

I have seen the positive effect of sharing this information with my students. A beautiful shift can happen when we learn how the body responds to fear and stress. It helps because it can stop us from taking things personally or believing we are broken beyond repair. It  points us onto a kinder mendful path toward our hope and strength. This knowledge along with guided MENDtations and self inquiry exercises can help when we are dealing with negative arousal responses. Many of my student learn to relax more, rebuild resiliency and access more joy in a relatively short time.

What I teach in my retreats and personalized mentoring sessions  is now supported by the growing body of research and knowledge from neuroscience. We combine guided practices  and conversations to help create the conditions for the desired shifts back to health, contentment and ease. Centuries before seeds of neuroscience theories were even thought of, spiritual and religious practices such as meditation, chanting, visualization, prayer, tribal and physical rituals and cognitive methods, were used to calm, destress and point us in the direction of joy and contentment.  It is powerfully transformative when we delve into ancient practices and teachings now with the added knowledge of the new findings.

We discover how that they go together well because they address the same human needs; the freedom and easing of fear, stress, anxiety, discontent, agitation and unhappiness. I feel awe when I see these connections because they reflect to me humanity’s desire and ability to engage in a continues and expansive exploratory creative unfolding toward betterment of our conditions.

The retreats I teach are immersive and supportive experiences where we relax and let our full selves be. We learn how the conditioned unnecessary reactivity in the body-mind act as door ways to healing and positive change. It’s amazing what can be done in three days! Participants are able to delve deep into their inner spaces and experience beautiful connection to soul. It’s profound and moving to witness. 

Participants report that the group experience and the exercises are soul nourishing, insightful and mendful on many levels.

Hollie wrote: “Following Rabbi Sigal’s Mendful program at Kripalu I have experienced a shift, a softening, a turn towards wonder. So much of this heart opening was a result of ‘marinating’ in the loving community Sigal held for us.”

I love guiding and supporting people in retreats and with personalized Mendful Life Mentoring. You don’t have to do it alone. I am here to help. Together we journey the mendful path.

Retreats at Kripalu October 17-19  and December

Mendtations

21 days to Rosh Hashanah

How I love the beautiful nights at the end of Summer. The growing moon above is beckoning us to gather a few more sun rays and a couple more days at the beach, to store within for the approaching cold of winter. In a few days, the full moon of the month of Elul will hang in the night’s sky.  It will be the last full moon of summer.

All these signs in nature are  telling us: we are 21 days away from Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

The invitation of the Jewish New Year is to truly have a fresh start; to review, organize and prioritize our lives and how we spend our time. To make amends, forgive, release, mend and at the end of this have a plan of intentions and goals to return to the home of our soul. A return to our true kind and loving nature. All this important work is necessary in order to clear a new path of hope to an inspired and meaningful life in the future. To truly clear a new path we must pass through the gates of  forgiveness; forgiving the hope for a better past. It’s time to release and move on.

Elul the month preceding the New Year, invites us to spent time at the wellspring of our hearts remembering what we love, what is important to us and what brings us alive. When we remember our authentic soul and long to return, we feel the strong pull of our desire to live authentically. Even when it’s hard to manage through the work of forgiveness, the sweet memory and feeling of being whole with ourselves and in the world, encourages us to do the work. We trust our stamina and commitment to do the work of forgiveness so we could live our highest aspirations and honor the desires of our hearts more each day.

Here are some questions and inspirations to Contemplate in the next 21 days:

How can you help yourself decide what to let go of and what to keep? What is in the way to living the life you want? What is between living authentically and what you do now? How do we leave the unhelpful habits, partly unconscious? How do we let go? What do we need to release?

Madison Taylor writes: “One of the hardest things in life is feeling stuck in a situation that we don’t like and want to change. We may have exhausted ourselves trying to figure out how to make change, and we may even have given up. If we tend to regard ourselves as having failed, this will block our ability to allow ourselves to succeed. We have the power to change the story we tell ourselves by acknowledging that in the past, we did our best, and we exhibited many positive qualities, and had many fine moments on our path to the present moment.”

Each year we are given the opportunity to review our lives and renew our resolve to change. The New Year is a call to open to the possibilities, the help and the hope to make the changes we need to make to live more fully from the heart. When we honestly and kindly review the past year, we make it possible to open to new ways in the new year. Welcoming an inner shift to allow us to get out of the cycle we’ve been in that’s been keeping us stuck.

After the reviewing it’s time to open the heart with forgiveness. To loosen the knots of shame, blame, regret, self-hatred, not good enough and other sticky patterns of thinking and feeling. All those feelings and thoughts about ourselves and others keep us separated from the home of our soul; our joy, ease and fulfillment.

We release the past and open to new possibilities in the new year.

Shannah Tovah.

Celebrate the Holidays in a Welcoming Community 

Reserve your seats for the High Holy Days 5779 HERE

Retreats at Kripalu Center in October and December

Tashlich – Reclaiming Our Humanity

Each morning I give thanks for a new day and commit to finding ways to be mendful, connected, helpful and kind.

Disasters, difficulties and personal hardships are natural challenges of life. We come together in community and friendship and create safe space  and rituals to lighten the load of pain and reduce suffering. TO make meaning and bring comfort and solace to one another. We are reminded time and time again that we are all in this together.  Difficult situations also highlight for us the inescapable truth: our time here is precious and fleeting. We all take turns being in the frontline of disaster, of loss, in acute pain and stress and, we also have our turn in being free from acute stress and danger.

Unfortunately, sometimes when stress arises we withhold our love and care from self and others. We hold ourselves back from life’s joys and kindness when they are obscured by suffering and we are in a survival mode. We forget to reach out and hold ourselves separate; maybe holding on to judgement and criticism of self, situation or others. We can be loving instead if we could only remember it’s available to us. Difficulties and societal upheavals bring us closer together as we experience our fragility and loss.

This time of year in the Jewish calendar we review and reclaim our humanity: our belonging and sharing in the human tribe. It gives us an opportunity to contemplate how we belong and how we hold ourselves apart. For so many of us, with our lists of “should” and culture telling us we need to deny our authentic experience, we sometimes buy into a preconceived notion of what is right and should make us happy. We can lose our way even when we are together.

Why are we focusing on the denial of our human experience?  Why shame, judgement, guilt and anger? Why the withholding of love? What is in the way of feeling connected, cared for and caring?  How can we relax a bit and trust ourselves and each other more? What do we need to release? And mostly, what do  we need to forgive ourselves for? And what forgiveness can we extend to others?

Tashlich is a ritual of release that we participate in during Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year September 10th.) I want to offer this practice of release to use during the days leading to the Jewish New Year. It can also be used anytime of year to help you release. Tashlich is traditionally done with breadcrumbs that are cast into a natural body of water. I am offering a variation on it here with imaginary or real rocks, pebbles, or other natural materials.

Any Day PRACTICE:
Imagine you are holding a stone in your hand, or actually holding one, and bring it close to your heart. Feel it as a heaviness in your emotional heart, a burden you are carrying in your chest, painful feelings or a belief. What burdens are you carrying in your heart? The rock in your hand can be something which is hard for you to let go of,  something you want or need to release. This hand gesture symbolizes your willingness to release and ask for help. You are willing  to stop carrying the worry, the secret, the shame and give it up to make room for the joys of life. Give attention to and notice what you are holding and how you are holding back within yourself and in your life. What has hardened and closed your heart? What have you been feeling shame about? How are you holding yourself separate?

Notice your breathing and relax with the closed fist by your chest until it is clear what you are holding. Begin opening your hand and prepare to release it when you are ready. Toss it, send it with kindness and care into the river of life and feel the effect of the release. Feel how the stones you release return to the river of life and find their place washed anew and cleansed. Be gentle and go slow. It may bring up unpleasant (or pleasant) feelings that are hard to face or hard to let go. You may want to grab them back or hold onto them. One by one, repeat as many times as you wish, until you feel it is working. All the things that need to be released at this time are forgiven and set free.

Forgiveness is when we forgive the hope for a better past so we can live well now and in the future.

Join us for High Holy Days Services and Tashlich

Freedom, Not Perfection

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Please mark your calendar and plan to be with us:

1. Spiritual and intimate High Holy Days in the Philadelphia area.

2. Choose from three retreats: Mendful Living, Wisdom of Kabbalah or Mendful Path, at Kripalu Center in MA (Dates: October 17-19  and December 23-25 and 28-30)

Freedom, not perfection

How can we celebrate this country on July 4th?

How can we love this country and celebrate freedom when so much is wrong?

At every moment in time some things are “wrong” and they need mending. The motivation to change, fix, build, and mend is seeded in those very wrongs. Celebrating the independence and freedom of a country is to acknowledge it’s past and present successes while, at the same time, asking how we can help and work toward bringing more freedom to more people.

It’s Complicated: Being in any relationship is complex, dynamic, and challenging. An individual’s relationship with a country is no different. We wish it was easy and that the country’s stated ideals were lived reality, but they are not. Ideals are theoretical points of perfection we aim toward. Reality, on the other hand, is living in the process–the messy process–which is definitely not orderly, static or perfect.

When our government shifts from right to left, and left to right, some of us are left out. Our government is a duopoly, which leaves us divided at every election. At every election a vicious cycle plays out, some of us are in favor when our chosen elected officials are in office, and some are the loser and out of favor.

As an analogy, we can think of the government as a parent who plays favoritism. But this parent is an inconsistent parent who changes their mind about which child is their favorite every few years. It’s confusing and inconsistent. It’s great when we are the favorite, but it hurts when we are out of favor. We feel abandoned, alone and scared. This bad parenting turns the children against one another and breaks up the family. No family is perfect and no country or government is immune to dysfunctional dynamics.

We are One Family. The nature of duopoly is to divide us, but we need to paddle against that force to keep the family together. We should stop and remember that we all want unconditional love and acceptance. We should celebrate freedom and independence today by remembering what is beautiful, good, human, just and kind, instead of focusing on the negative.

We all want to feel that we matter, are cared for, and are treated with justice and kindness. When we are divided, when any of us are treated without care, it hurts. It hurts not just individuals and groups, but all of us as a whole. When children were separated from parents at the border we all felt the pain as our human fabric was tearing. It is simply hard to imagine how a person could follow orders and take a child–any child–from their parents because of some administrative law. The image it conjures is that of separating families at concentration camps during the 2nd World War. Didn’t we say never again?

As people, we share land, air, water, humanity, love of our children, and love of each other. We are still a family. The ones who ordered the separation, those who separated the families at the border, and those who were separated, are all one family.  A dysfunctional family perhaps, but still a family. We must stay united in our love and be willing to help each other within our borders and beyond them. We must stay on the edge of mending and reach out to one another lest we fray our human fabric even farther.

Our Liberty Bell can still ring freedom, but it’s not perfect, it’s cracked.

Leonard Cohen sings: 

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in!

What is your imperfect offering? What can you do to make our great country better? For you and for all others? For those who are Born In The USA and those who are Coming to America.

Love and light, Rabbi Sigal

It’s Mending Time

Together we mend our lives and the world. One conversation, one action, one commitment, one small step at a time.

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More than ever, the world is calling us to fulfill our mission of Tikkun Olam.

Tikkun Olam is rooted in Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah and is summoning us to strive toward repair, healing and mending the world.

Disconnect and loneliness are common now a days and we need to find ways to bring our attention together for caring conversations. To reconnect and begin to mend our feelings of brokenness and separation.

With Mendful, a new word I coined, I hope to communicate a big idea in a simple and direct way.
MENDFUL, describes in a word a healing mindset.  A cluster of ideas and attitudes informing a mending and healing way of being. 

I hope MENDFUL the new mind set becomes a primary m i n d s e t  for healing ourselves and the world. In Mendful I combine several ideas and attitudes to reclaim our connectivity and humanity. Among them are: kindness, mindfulness, gracefulness, heartfulness, caring conversations, listening, sharing, patience, authenticity, creativity, remembering our deep interconnectedness, generosity, receptivity, forgiveness, compassion and peace.

Let’s gather, connect and mend… Please join us in cultivating and spreading mendfulness and healing our hearts and the world. We gather to meditate, pray, learn and engage in healing conversations. We are bringing more people to the conversation with virtual forums and resources, and we hope you join us.

What we need is TIME TO MEND … Join us to learn how to relax, feel less burdened, breathe a little easier, mend and heal.

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Mendful Living Mentoring with Rabbi Sigal for individuals and small groups. contact us for details and to schedule a free 15 minutes consultation for new students.

RETREATS at Kripalu Center, MA, With Rabbi Sigal (Registration and Information)
Midweek Retreat October 17–19
Mendful Living from Your Soul: Fall Back Into Ease and Contentment
December 23-25
Wisdom of Kabbalah: A Retreat for Inner Peace
December 28-30
Mendful Path Retreat for Mending Heart and Soul

Ease into Messiness

Why Seder?

Seder in Hebrew means orderliness.                                            Receive our newsletter

Messiness is life. Humans have been talking and writing about chaos and messiness for thousands of years. It has always been a part of our experience and motivated us to change. With determination and creativity we seek to bring about more order.

Out of chaos the Earth was formed, a few ancient myths of creation tell us, the Genesis narrative among them. The goal of these stories is to make sense of the unknown and to organize. The general thrust of these myths is that an all-knowing and powerful God takes charge of chaos and with superb wisdom was able to organize the world and guide it. (Don’t you sometimes wish your world could be effortlessly and efficiently organized like that?)

But still, even with a super powerful deity, the messy story continues. Our human experience is a chain of messes, monumental ones and smaller ones; personal, communal and environmental. To help us cope with this reality, many aspects of every religion are dedicated to organization and order. For example: rituals, laws, governance etc. They serve a purpose.

We don’t like messiness and we want to have more control because we are uncomfortable with the unknown. We like things to be more predictable, known, so they are less anxiety provoking. We don’t like surprises. Or maybe we like only good surprises. (Although, some of us rather not even experience those.) In our age, when anxiety is a prevalent condition, a pause of “Seder” of ease and enjoyment is a welcomed remedy.

When we clean and prepare for Passover with anticipation for a night of orderliness (Seder) we remember messiness is part of life, but we also remember our ability to bring about order. We are able to shape and control space and time (i.e, ritual.)

The Jewish year cycle of holidays invites us to routinely encounter themes on the map of human and societal needs. Spring holidays are opportunities for cleaning, organizing and celebrating order and openness. An invitation to remember that having order and routines can be supportive to us spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically. Predictability that comes with orderliness allows the body-mind to relax on all levels. It is relaxing when the amount of decisions we need to make is reduced. At the Seder we can lean back, sing, eat and enjoy. The order of the Seder, the meal and the story are basically prescribed, although many embellish on it for fun. The Seder ritual gives us the permission to effortlessly “ride” it to the end of the evening and declare it complete.

I hope you can enjoy the evening of order and ease. When we are at ease we open more fully and enjoy the mystery of life. Because, after all, life is a wonderful mystery, and with all the control we try to exercise, it’s messy and we don’t fully know. It may sound contradictory but, the more we ease into messiness, accepting life is an unknown mystery, the less anxiety we experience. In a way, reducing our angsts about needing to control everything, combined with some preparation and orderliness, allows us to relax into the mystery with more ease, and awe. That, my friends, is freedom.

I wish you a holiday of ease and contentment. Dayenu!

Does It Spark Joy? Spiritual Preparation for Passover

When your room is clean and uncluttered, you have no choice but to examine your inner state.” Marie Kondo, in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Even in the process of cleaning and organizing we examine our relationship to things, people, physical space and inner states. In the process of choosing we remember, sort through and choose. To what will you say yes, and to what will say no?

Hello Mendful Springtime!

Where spirituality meets Spring cleaning.

Cleaning for Passover is my favorite ritual of Spring. Each year I rediscover how cleaning with a purpose makes a huge difference in my life on a few levels. Preparing for the first night of Passover, the Seder (in Hebrew means order) is a journey of putting things in order. The yearly ritual of preparing is much more complicated compared to the Seder ritual, which is relatively simple and it has a script (Hagaddah books!)

Spring cleaning can be a transformative endeavor even before the holiday begins, if we do it right. Scrubbing, removing, discarding, cleaning and rearranging our living spaces has the potential to refocus and give us a new sense of freedom and ready us for something new. All this physical work can however obscure the opportunity to attend to our inner clutter of thoughts and beliefs, unless we use the process as a reminder and intend to include examining the inner landscape along with the physical cleaning.

It is hard to let go, but you’ll be glad you did. Marie Kondo suggests an efficient process by which we can select the things we want to keep. She suggests we use this simple question as a filter criterion, “Does it spark joy?” While Kondo’s book is primarily focused on how to tidy up one’s physical environment, her guidance can be metaphorically superimposed over the concept of clearing out inner clutter as well.

Marie writes, “There are several common patterns when it comes to discarding. One is to discard things when they cease being functional—for example, when something breaks down beyond repair or when part of a set is broken. Another is to discard things that are out of date, such as clothes that are no longer in fashion or things related to an event that has passed. It’s easy to get rid of things when there is an obvious reason for doing so.” Marie invites people to ask themselves, “Does this item spark joy?”
Let’s begin to clear our environments and attend to inner clearing   so we could forge a path to freedom and ease.  To remember what we cherish and remove what does not work or useful any longer. To better choose how, with who and with what we want to spend our time and resources. May you find mendful paths to more freedom and may life and all you do and have spark more joy.

I wish you meaningful cleaning and organizing, and a joyous budding of Spring’s renewal.

Welcome to Purim: Happiness is Served

A holiday dedicated to happiness and fun? Yes!
On Purim we are “commanded” to be happy and have fun. But what if we don’t feel like it? That is why it is a “commandment!” Even when, or especially when, we don’t feel happy or are not in the mood to celebrate we have to engage in this practice of having fun and being happy. Purim is an opportunity to practice shifting your mood. A valuable skill to have! The reciprocal flow goes in both directions; allowing more playfulness brings about more joy and more joy encourages more freedom to be playful.

I have shared about setting the right conditions instead of setting goals, for living the life we want. Happiness and fun work in similar ways. On Purim, we set the conditions and are  reminded about happiness.
We know from studies that smiling and laughing, even for no reason at all, changes how we feel. When we smile and laugh we set the physical, chemical, and neural conditions to feeling happier. 
Purim is an interesting combination of fun and masquerading. It works because freeing ourselves to be playful, in how we dress and behave on Purim, sets the conditions to silliness and giddiness, and that in turns contributes to more happiness and encourages more freedom of expression. Freedom of expression goes together with feeling authentic and opens us to more joy and fun.